Many legal professionals fear AI may infringe on their job security by significantly cutting the available jobs. This article sheds light on a few of the valid concerns regarding the use of legal AI technology and explains why the benefits of AI outweigh the risks.


SwissCognitiveArtificial Intelligence (AI) technology is steadily gaining traction in the legal sector, and some practitioners worry about the changes it’s bringing. Many legal professionals fear AI may infringe on their job security by significantly cutting the available jobs. A number of legal professionals raise ethical and legal concerns underlying the use of AI in their work. Still others wonder whether future attorneys will possess the skills needed to take advantage of this technology. This article will discuss a few of the valid concerns regarding the use of legal AI technology and explain why the benefits of AI outweigh the risks.

Will AI Make Lawyers Obsolete?

When technology performs better than humans at certain tasks, job losses seem inevitable. But the effect may not be as dire as some predict. Current AI technology isn’t necessarily the artificial superintelligence depicted in science fiction novels that can easily master diverse topics. However, many attorneys think of artificial superintelligence when they hear about the use of AI in the legal world. The bottom line? The dynamic role of an attorney — one that involves strategy, creativity, and persuasion — can’t be reduced to one or several AI programs.

Many people believe AI technology works in the same way as a human brain, but that’s not the case. In his book Online Courts and the Future of Justice, author Richard Susskind discusses the mistaken impression that machines mimic the way humans work, which he terms an AI fallacy. Many current AI systems work in manners different from humans. For example, they review data using machine learning, or algorithms, rather than cognitive processes. AI is adept at processing data, but it can’t think abstractly or apply common sense as humans can. Thus, AI in the legal sector enhances the work of attorneys, but it can’t replace them.

Of course, as more firms and legal departments adopt AI technologies and as those technologies improve, some jobs in the legal sector may shrink, particularly roles involving routine tasks that can be automated — for instance, freelance document review attorneys. But historically, when technology displaces jobs, it creates jobs in other areas. AI has already created new legal positions, including AI legal knowledge engineers. Humans will remain indispensable to the practice of law, despite rising dependence on AI.

However, AI technology will change the way we work. For instance, document review projects can involve document sets that are unmanageable for a team of humans given their vast size, the cost of attorney reviewers, and deadlines. According to studies, AI’s accuracy outperforms that of humans in selecting relevant sources in document review. Additionally, because of the length of so many contracts, mistakes caused by human error are common. AI software decreases the time attorneys spend redlining contracts and increases the accuracy of the review.

The technology also frees up attorneys’ schedules by automating repetitious, monotonous tasks so attorneys can focus on devising better legal solutions for their clients as well as developing more strategic initiatives for their firms. With the application of AI software in contract management, attorneys can extract data and review contracts more rapidly. Doctoral candidate Beverly Rich, writing for Harvard Business Review, says her research suggests that firms with a significant volume of routine contracts “have generally seen an increase in productivity and efficiency in their contracting” when using AI software.

AI in the legal sector raises ethical concerns about competence, diligence, and oversight. The use of AI technology creates new situations that current ethics rules have yet to tackle. For instance, how does our duty of competence and diligence apply to the use of AI technology in the legal field?

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Duty of competence

Attorneys are not computer scientists, and yet if technology impacts our duty to our clients, we have some obligation to understand why and how. The American Bar Association (ABA) recognizes this necessity.[…] Read more:

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Written by: Brittainy Boessel